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  • Posted By Scott
  • |
  • Oct 04, 2016

Condominium Security – An Initial look at the Video Surveillance System (VSS)

Condominium Security – An Initial look at the Video Surveillance System (VSS)

For most Condominiums, the major components of the Security Solution include access control (key for a few older condominiums, but mostly fobs for the newer ones) and the security video system. The access control system is used to Delay (and restrict) access to the building, where the camera system (hereafter referred to as VSS or Video Surveillance system) is used to Detect any unwanted intrusion to the property.

Previously, we were approached to put together a proposal to recommend locations of security cameras within a condominium. We may have taken ourselves out of the competition by asking too many questions, but it is critical that the cameras be integrated properly into the security solution.

Our experience is that, too often, the budget is approved to purchase cameras, but there may not be enough consideration given to the calibre of the camera. To paraphrase, “not all cameras are created equal”, and the condominium may not need the same camera in each location. Often, the selection of the camera type is left up to the third party contractor supplying the camera. While they are certainly experts in the camera’s capabilities, they may not understand the condominium culture and building requirements. The condominium may pay too much for a camera that is overdesigned for the location, or it may install a camera that does not have the capabilities to perform in the manner needed by the corporation.

Questions to consider when installing or upgrading cameras:

1. What is the purpose of the camera (Subject Identification, Action Identification, Scene Identification, etc.)?

2. Which areas are required to be covered by the cameras?

3. What camera will satisfy the above two points?

ASIS Protection of Assets – Physical Security recommends that organizations take the time to write out the purpose of each camera that is installed or being considered (point#1 above). Some examples may include, but are certainly not limited to:

What is the camera intended to capture?

How will the images that are captured be used?

Who is responsible for testing/checking?

How is the system backed-up?

When looking at point #3, the choice of camera should be considered on the basis of sensitivity, resolution, and many other design factors:

Sensitivity is the minimum amount of light that is required, and will be covered under a future blog dealing with lighting and condominium integration.

Resolution is the measure of picture quality and therefore, determines the picture’s usefulness to the condominium. It is usually expressed in the form of pixels per ft. (or per meter). The resolution levels can range from General (which is approximately 5 pixels per ft.), which can only identify movement, all the way up to Facial Recognition (88 pixels per ft.), which allows excellent resolution, the ability to blow up the picture, and extreme detail.

With the advance of technology, as well as the lowering of costs, Condominiums are now in the position where they can install higher quality cameras in their locations to better serve the corporation. When updating their Reserve Funds, we recommend that condominiums undertake a VSS Review to ensure that, when they replace their cameras, the building receives the best value for their security dollars.

If you have any questions or would like a proposal for your condominium’s Video Surveillance Review, please feel free to contact us at [email protected]